So take a look at the titles of this and the previous posts..have you started to notice a theme?? Is our guide trying to get us all killed?? First cliffs, then drowning hazards…
We drove about an hour top the northern most community in Israel….a stones throw from Lebanon and about 4o km from Beirut. It is quite an odd feeling knowing that we were right there….on the boarder…staring at “the enemy”…..the villages don’t look any different….there was no visible fence or wall where we were….but there are several millennium of bad blood, fighting and war. Honestly, it’s a shame. More about that later.
Anyway, I wasn’t nervous about this like I was the previous day….and the reality is that out hike through the Snir River was WAY fun!!! The boys thought it was a riot that they got to walk right down the middle of a river!! It was a bit cold, but all three even tool the opportunity to shower beneath a waterfall.
OK…now that you’ve seen the pic, you’re saying that’s not a river…we have streams bigger than that in the States!! Remember that the average annual rainfall in this area is measured in centimeters, not inches or even feet, and the whole area is drying up. It’s amazing that they even have this much water in the river….oh, and it runs into the Jordan River, which honestly is not much wider!!!
After our hike, it was off to the Golan Heights. For those who are not entirely familiar with Middle East history, the Golan Heights were part of Syria until Israel occupied the land after the 1967 war. Shortly after that, Israel passed a law annexing this land and “officially” making it part of Israel. It remains a source of contention today, as the Syrians want it back and the peace process seems to hinge on that. Now I have to say, before 1967 this land was barren. It has only been through Israeli investment, technology and ingenuity that it has become irrigated and an agricultural center for various fruits and vegetables….what used to be just a vast landscape on a high plateau, is now beautiful and productive for the Israelis….but the Syrians want it back….its complex issue and I don’t have any answers!!
We rented ATVs and took the boys out into the country. The highlight of the ride was when we rode through an old Syrian military base and Police/Military Office Academy. The base has been abandoned, and the Academy building was destroyed during the bombings in 1967. Some of the images are sobering reminders of what happened here and what will happen again in the future unless the peace process can be successful!
As one of the boys climbed out of the bunker on Mount Bental, I am reminded that this is a reality for the Israelis every day. We are lucky that our concerns in the US are largely for those men and women whom we have sent to the Middle East to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Israel, it is real.
Please don’t get me wrong, we never felt unsafe and war does not seem to be a front of mind issue for the people with whom I spoke. But, it is part of their reality. They live among mine fields, bunkers and bomb shelters. As an outsider I was equally impressed with both the beauty of the landscape as well as the sobering reality of the on-going political and religious conflict….oh, did I mention that the guy who rented us the SUV’s had two 9mm hand guns stuffed the back of his pants?
After our adventure through the Golan Heights, we stopped at a local farm, where we bought some cheese, wine and olive oil and returned home for a wonderful dinner! Tomorrow….I’m not sure yet….you’ll have to wait until my next update and you’ll find out just a few hours after I do.
Don’t forget, you can check out my slide show for more images from the day’s events.